JAMAICA’S REGGAE Boyz will kick-off their CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers for Qatar 2022 with a tough home tie against arch rivals Mexico next June.
The draw for the FIFA World Cup finals, to be played in the Middle East, saw all 35 CONCACAF nations learn their fate this week with the Boyz one of five sides to enter the 3rd qualifiying round.
Jamaica’s qualifiers comprise of only two home matches out of their opening seven encounters. The Boyz will need to be razor sharp as they travel to face the Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and the United States.
As it stands the CONCACAF’s top 10 ranked sides are Mexico (FIFA no.11), USA (no.22), Costa Rica (no.46), Jamaica (no.48), Honduras (no.62), El Salvador (no.69), Canada (no.73), Curaçao (no.80), Panama (no.81) and Haiti (no.86).
Head coach Theodore Whitmore, who is scouring overseas talent, has been carving out a set of impressive results since he returned to the helm. And the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) denied a report in the Daily Mirror newspaper that ex-England coach Sven-Göran Eriksson had been approached to replace Whitmore.
Former fan favourite Whitmore, who impressed in the heart of Jamaica’s defence at the France ’98 World Cup finals, has been heavily criticised by former players for uninspiring displays but he has often had to utilise island-based stars rather than bring in overseas-based stalwarts.
Following the coronavirus outbreak, FIFA had to rejig their Qatar 2022 qualifiers and the CONCACAF competition has been revised with the final round comprising eight nations. The five sides – Costa Rica, Hondura, Jamaica, Mexico and USA – will be joined by a trio of teams.
And Whitmore will no doubt be delighted that the Boyz will playing five of their final seven qualifiers at Kingston’s National Stadium, when the team should have gelled and be sharper.
Their back-to-back home games against the US and Mexico in the latter part of next year could ultimately decide whether or not Jamaica can end their long overdue wait to compete in the World Cup finals for only the second time.
The CONCACAF qualifying draw for the 1st and 2nd rounds sees 30 nations divided into six groups of five. The respective group winners will then face each other in a two game play-off, which will determine the three participants to join the final round when the Boyz will compete. The 1st round games will be played in October and November, with the 2nd round contested in March 2021.
The final qualifying eight-team tournament will see countries tackling each other home and away, with the top three sides in the table progressing to the highly lucrative World Cup finals. Jamaica’s 14 ties will kick-off in June and continue next year in September, October and November respectively before being completed in January 2022 and March 2022.
Following the visit of Mexico, Whitmore’s troops will host one of the qualifying teams before travelling to Costa Rica and the US in June. The Boyz will then face another qualifying team in Kingston before travelling to Honduras in September 2021.
Jamaica travel to the third qualifying team, then will welcome the US before their return fixtures against Mexico (November 2021), Costa Rica (January 2022) and Honduras (March 2022).
Should the Boyz fail to automatically qualify as on the top three teams in the table, they have another shot at reaching Qatar 2022. The fourth-placed nation will qualify for the FIFA Inter-continental play-off, scheduled for June 2022.
CONCACAF World Cup qualifers
Group A | Antigua & Barbuda, El Salvador, Grenada, Montserrat & US Virgin Islands
Group B | Aruba, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands & Suriname
Group C | British Virgin Islands, Cuba,Curaçao, Guatemala & St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Group D | Anguilla, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic & Panama
Group E | Belize, Haiti, Nicaragua, St. Lucia & Turks & Caicos Islands
Group F | Bahamas, Guyana, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts & Nevis & Trinidad & Tobago
1A vs 1F (winner will be W1)
1B vs 1E (winner will be W2)
1C vs 1D (winner will be W3)
W1 v USA
W2 v Honduras
W3 v Costa Rica
Mexico v Jamaica